• 03 DEC 13
    • 0

    Riviera eroding as Mediterranean landscapes increasingly degraded

    More than 40% of beaches in France, Italy and Spain were found to be confronting coastal erosion, including the French Riviera, Catalan coast, Emilia-Romagna and the deltas of the Rhone and Ebro rivers, according to the First Report of the Mare Nostrum Project.

    The report, entitled Existing Knowledge on Legal-Institutional Frameworks for Coastline Management: The International, EU and National Levels, was first presented at the Mare Nostrum workshop held in Volos, Greece in late July. The findings are part of a section on human impacts on the Mediterranean coastline, citing academic and official research.

    Coastal erosion is also evident in the regions of the Nile and Po river deltas as well.

    “Erosion rates are expected to accelerate in the near future,” the report warned, “with rising sea levels eventually invading coastal wetlands and lowlands.”

    Coastal erosion is an environmental threat related to a combination of human activities – such as damming, coastal development and the abandonment of agriculture – and global climate change.

    About half of the total coastline of the Euro-Mediterranean area is rocky and considered to be stable. On the other hand, roughly one-quarter of the Italian Adriatic coast and 7.4 percent of the Aegean coast show evolutionary trends of erosion, especially in the sandy areas.

    Mediterranean coastal erosion

    The increase in dams, reservoirs and other artificial structures is also taking a toll on coastline stability, retaining approximately 45% of sediment fluxes that otherwise would be delivered to the coast and help maintain beaches.

    Additionally, increased construction of marinas and other urban and tourist infrastructures has also had a significant effect on beaches and the erosion-accretion dynamics of the coastal zone, the report noted.

    Coastal erosion is part of a wider trend of destructive landscape changes along Mediterranean beaches.

    “An unprecedented degradation of coastal landscapes has occurred along the Mediterranean coastlines, as a result of growing population and consumption expectations leading to rapid modifications and conversions of the landscapes on increasingly larger scales,” the report noted, citing academic research.

    Landscape changes include artificial land cover, urban expansion, tourist over development, agricultural encroachment and intensification, sand dune afforestation, logging and removal of reed beds.

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